Unicorns of Love entered the EU LCS in 2015

A brief, heart-breaking history of Unicorns of Love

With the 2017 EU LCS Regional Qualifiers finished, Europe has chosen three teams to represent them at the League of Legends World Championships, and the Unicorns of Love is not one of them. This seems to be their destiny. UOL is always good enough to be a contender, but never good enough to be the champion. They have always had a shot at Worlds, but never reached it. They have made it into the gauntlet thrice, and lost out all three times. Here is a brief look at how the Unicorns got here, and why it is so heart-breaking.

2015

Unicorns of Love qualified for the EU LCS in 2015

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Unicorns of Love entered the LCS in 2015 by defeating Millenium in the 2015 Spring Promotion tournament. UOL was promoted, while Millenium was relegated. Their roster included Kiss “Vizicsacsi” Tamás top, Berk “Gilius” Demir jungle, Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage mid, Pontus “Vardags” Dahlblom AD carry and Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov support. After Millenium took a 2-0 lead, the Unicorns were able to reverse sweep the series, winning 3-2. This was the beginning of the Unicorns’ legacy as wildcards in the EU LCS.

Coming into the 2015 Spring Split, UOL replaced Gilius with a new jungler, Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlarek. Kikis was known for his pocket picks in the jungle, such as Sion, Gnar or Shaco. In their debut split, UOL finished with a 9-9 record to secure fifth place and qualify for playoffs. PowerOfEvil was the only player in the league to be the weekly MVP more than once (weeks four and eight).

In Spring Playoffs, the Unicorns had to face fourth place, Gambit Gaming. UOL took them down 3-1, moving them into semifinals against number one seed SK Gaming. In a massive upset, UOL won that best-of-five 3-2. This win brought them to their first playoff finals within their first split, facing second seed Fnatic. The Unicorns took it all the way to five games, but fell short to finish in second place and tally 70 championship points.

UOL came into the 2015 Summer Split carrying momentum. They swapped Gilius back into the jungle role, while Kikis went to G2 (then Gamers2). In almost identical fashion, the Unicorns finished the split 9-9, but placed fourth. Gilius left the team going into playoffs, leaving Cho “H0R0” Jae-hwan as their starting jungler.

Summer Playoffs put UOL against Roccat first, who they defeated 3-2. The victory pushed them into an even tougher semifinals match-up versus an undefeated Fnatic. Getting skunked 3-0, UOL was forced into the third place match with H2K. A win here would send UOL to Worlds as Europe’s second seed, assuming Fnatic won in the finals. However, H2K crushed UOL in another 3-0, and Fnatic won the finals, sending UOL to their first EU LCS gauntlet.

Luckily, UOL’s 110 total championship points entitled them to a full bye in the Regional Qualifiers. Giants, Roccat and Origen would have to fight each other before meeting UOL in the final. Origen, a line-up that would go on to finish top four at the 2015 World Championships, made it to the gauntlet finals and took down UOL in a final 3-0. The Unicorns’ 2015 season would end there.

2016

Unicorns of Love replaced three starters for 2016

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Coming into 2016, Unicorns of Love decided to replace three of their five starters. Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov and Pierre “Steelback” Medjaldi signed as their jungler and AD carry, previously of Gambit. Hampus “Fox” Myhre stepped into the mid lane from SK Gaming. Vizicsacsi and Hylissang remained UOL’s top and support.

UOL went through the 2016 Spring Split like past splits. They finished with a 10-8 record, showing strength against teams below them and weakness against teams above them. Most of their problems revolved around the jungle position. Starting in week three, Diamondprox had to leave Europe, due to visa issues. UOL borrowed Millenium’s jungler, Charly “Djoko” Guillard, as a temporary replacement. In week four UOL brought in Rudy “Rudy” Beltran, an unknown player, who was replaced in week seven by ex-H2K Jean-Victor “Loulex” Burgevin. These jungle player rotations hindered UOL’s ability to compete against more stable rosters.

This inconsistency came to a head in the Spring Playoffs when fourth seed Origen defeated the Unicorns 3-0 in the quarterfinals. UOL’s split ended in fifth-sixth, granting only 10 championship points. It was a disappointing placement that demanded change for the Summer Split.

In the mid-season, Unicorns of Love brought in two Korean imports to play jungle and AD carry. Kang “Move” Min-su came into the EU LCS after most recently playing for Gravity in North America. Kim “Veritas” Kyoung-min had played for Vortex, a North American Challenger team. UOL also signed Fabian “Exileh” Schubert, a mid laner with history on several European Challenger teams. Riot also changed the EU LCS regular season to a best-of-two format.

These changes did not seem to affect Unicorns’ consistency much. If anything, it hindered their performance. UOL finished the regular season Summer Split in sixth place with a 6-5-7 record. This line-up was clearly better than tenth through seventh places, but also a step below first through fifth. The Unicorns would go into playoffs as underdogs.

Once there, UOL was able to take down third seed Giants 3-1. Moving into semifinals, UOL had to face an undefeated G2. The Unicorns lost 3-1, which sent them into their second third place match against H2K. Winning 3-1, H2K pushed UOL into the Regional Qualifiers for the second year in a row.

With only 50 championship points, Unicorns of Love found themselves in a difficult position. Giants, Fnatic and Splyce stood in their way of going to Worlds. UOL defeated Giants and Fnatic 3-0, propelling them forward into the gauntlet finals again. 2016 looked like UOL’s redemption. Sadly, Splyce took the series 3-2, keeping the Unicorns out of Worlds for another year.

2017

Unicorns of Love signed Xerxe and Samux for 2017

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

This third year has been Unicorns of Love’s third opportunity to go to Worlds. In an off-season full of roster swaps, UOL made some questionable changes. Bringing in European veterans in Spring 2016 did not bring the success they wanted. Korean imports in Summer 2016 was not fruitful, either. For Spring 2017, the Unicorns brought in two low-profile Europeans, Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir and Samuel “Samux” Fernández Fort. Xerxe had played for Dark Passage in the TCL, but could not participate in the International Wildcard Qualifiers, due to his age. Samux had played once in the LCS in 2012, but was quickly relegated. He only played in the Challenger Series after that.

Riot further changed the EU LCS format to have two groups that play best-of-threes each week. This format seemed to suit UOL, as they finished the Spring Split in first place for Group B with an 11-2 record. Topping their group afforded UOL a first round bye in the playoffs. They were met by Group A’s second seed, Misfits, who the Unicorns defeated 3-1 to qualify for the finals. This was their first playoff finals over five EU LCS splits. They met defending champions G2 and lost 3-1. UOL was granted 70 championship points.

For the first time since entering the LCS, Unicorns of Love did not change their roster between splits. The team seemed confident coming into the Summer Split with Vizicsacsi, Xerxe, Exileh, Samux and Hylissang. But the summer regular season was slightly worse than spring, mostly due to problems surrounding Exileh and the mid lane. UOL put up a 9-4 record, placing second in Group B behind H2K, based on game score.

Quarterfinals did not look to be much of a problem, as the Unicorns would face Group A’s third seed, Misfits. Unfortunately, UOL could not take a single game, and lost 0-3, ending their playoff run earlier than expected. UOL’s 90 total championship points put them behind Misfits and Fnatic. Unicorns would go to their third straight regional gauntlet.

The Unicorns sat in the second notch of the Regional Qualifiers, after H2K versus Splyce, but before Fnatic. H2K took the victory over Splyce, which meant they could face UOL in a critical moment, once again. In a nail-biter series, H2K secured the 3-2 win, spoiling the Unicorns’ chances of representing Europe at Worlds this year.

2018

 

What will Unicorns of Love do in 2018?

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

What will Unicorns of Love do between now and the 2018 season? Every member of this roster has shown promise in 2017. Vizicsacsi and Hylissang have been with this team since their induction in 2015. Coach Fabian “Sheepy” Mallant and manager-mascot Romain Bigeard have been staples, as well. Xerxe and Samux have solidified themselves as LCS talents. Exileh may have had a rough Summer Split, but his high points are unquestionable.

Like splits past, Riot has already announced major changes to the EU LCS format for 2018. The LCS will be split into four domestic leagues with a greater league running parallel. UOL has claimed their slot in Berlin, as reported by ESPN, with Roccat and Schalke 04. The current two-group format has treated the Unicorns well during the regular season. Maybe this update will too.

Regardless, the pink-and-white have made their mark on the EU LCS since joining in 2015. Despite falling short of Worlds year after year, UOL has cemented itself as a top contender in the regular season, playoffs and the gauntlet. European teams fear this organization as a competitor, because they know that UOL is destined for greatness. 2015 may not have been their year. 2016 may have been rocky. 2017 may have been heart-breaking. But who knows what 2018 may bring? Will falling short remain Unicorns of Love’s legacy, or will Love finally conquer?


Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

Names, dates, etc.: Leaguepedia

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Fnatic may qualify for Worlds

Prediction: Fnatic, G2 and H2K will represent the EU LCS at Worlds

While four weeks of Summer Split, playoffs and the regional gauntlet remain for the EU LCS, Worlds is just around the corner. The window for qualifying is quickly closing, and every match counts. The teams have four to six series left to prove themselves and solidify their spot in the World Championships to represent Europe.

Keeping that in mind, I believe Fnatic (FNC), G2 and H2K will be the qualifying teams. Below, I outline the various different circumstances of these three teams. There are spectrums of results that these squads can fall into. There is enough parity within the league that any of these teams could miss out on Worlds, but they can also win the split and be Europe’s top seed. Here are the ways in which FNC, G2 and H2K can finish out their split.

fnatic

How they miss Worlds: Let’s say Fnatic loses its upcoming series against Unicorns of Love (UOL), Misfits (MSF) and G2. They would end the split with a 9-4 record. MSF or G2 would need to win five out of six of their remaining games to overtake FNC for first place in Group A. Therefore, they are most likely going to end first in their group.

Fnatic may qualify for Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

First place gives FNC a first round bye in playoffs. If they lose in the semifinals, FNC would end the split in third or fourth place. Third gives them 70 championship points; fourth gives 40 points. Since they finished Spring Split with 50 points, FNC’s total championship points would come to 120 or 90.

If playoffs played out in this way, then G2 and UOL would both most likely finish with more championship points, pushing FNC into the regional qualifiers. If we are assuming MSF beat FNC in week eight, then they may very well beat them in the gauntlet to qualify. This would be FNC’s lowest probable outcome, in my opinion.

Realistic expectations: FNC should reasonably win three of their last five series. Their record would end at 10-3, meaning MSF or G2 would need to win all of their remaining series (including those against FNC) to overtake first place in Group A.

Again, first place gives FNC a first round bye in playoffs. Realistically, FNC will end up playing against UOL or H2K in the semifinals. They can beat either of those opponents to make it into the finals and auto-qualify via first place in Summer Split or highest total championship points.

H2K or UOL winning playoffs to auto-qualify would be the only possibilities that would rule out these qualifications. FNC would then be competing with G2 and UOL for highest championship points. For example, if UOL finishes first, FNC second and G2 third, then G2 would total 160 points. FNC would have 140, forced into the gauntlet. If G2 instead finishes fourth, then they would total 130 points.

Fnatic may qualify for Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Finally, if the playoff standings end with H2K-FNC-UOL-G2 in first through fourth, then FNC and UOL will tie with 140 total championship points. According to lolesports.com, FNC would qualify for Worlds, because they accrued more points in the Summer Split.

Best case scenario: FNC can realistically win the entire Summer Split. They currently sit at 7-1, and it is likely they will finish first in Group A. Therefore, they are likely to have a bye in the first round of playoffs. H2K or UOL are FNC’s most likely semi-finals opponent. FNC could definitely beat them to qualify for the finals.

Once there, FNC will most likely face H2K, UOL or G2. Again, they can conceivably beat any of these opponents in a best-of-five series to win the Summer Split and auto-qualify for Worlds as Europe’s first seed.

G2

How they miss Worlds: G2 are second in Group A with a 5-3 record. They have five series left to solidify their spot in the standings. Assuming G2 beats all teams below them and loses to FNC and MSF, they would end the regular season with an 8-5 record. This may put them at third in their group.

G2 may qualify for Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

They would likely face UOL or H2K in the quarterfinals. Either of those teams could eliminate G2 from playoffs immediately. They would finish in fifth-sixth, gaining only 20 championship points. G2’s total would be 110 points. If UOL finishes second, third or fourth, FNC finishes second or third, or MSF finishes second, then G2 would be forced into the regional qualifiers.

Within the gauntlet, G2 would most likely auto-qualify for the semifinals or finals. They could reasonably win into Worlds, but they could also fall flat. It would be hard to imagine the 2017 World Championships without G2 in attendance, but that is not out of the realm of possibility.

Realistic expectations: Suppose G2 beats Vitality (VIT), Ninjas in Pyjamas, MSF and Roccat (ROC) in their last four weeks of the Summer Split. G2 would finish the split with a 9-4 record, second in Group A. This could completely change their likelihood for qualifying into Worlds. Splyce (SPY) would be the most likely opponent from Group B.

If G2 were to win that quarterfinals match, then they would automatically finish in the top four in the EU LCS. Fourth place would give G2 130 championship points. UOL would have to get second or third, or FNC would need to get second, to push G2 into the gauntlet. Under those circumstances, G2 would most likely bye into the finals of the Regional Qualifiers, putting them one best-of-five away from Worlds.

G2 may qualify for Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

If G2 finish in third, that would put them at 160 points. UOL would have to get second place to knock G2 into the gauntlet. Any other circumstance would allow G2 to qualify for Worlds as Europe’s second seed.

Best case scenario: Most EU LCS fans know that G2 are completely capable of making it into the playoff finals. Even if they lose, G2 would finish the year with 180 championship points. It would be impossible for another team to surpass.

It is not inconceivable for G2 to win the entire Summer Split. They have won three splits in a row, and performed highly at Mid-Season Invitational. G2 would love to go to Worlds as Europe’s top seed to set themselves up for international success.

H2K

How they miss Worlds: H2K do not have an easy road to Worlds this year. Spring Split really set them back compared to other top teams. They currently sit towards the top of Group B with a 6-3 record. They are battling UOL for the first place spot. SPY is two wins behind H2K with four weeks to go.

H2K may qualify for Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

If H2K drops series to SPY and UOL, and SPY is able to overtake them for second place in Group B, then H2K will most likely face G2 or MSF in the quarterfinals. MSF will be a decent match-up, but losing to G2 would mean ending fifth-sixth again. H2K would finish the year with 30 championship points and be forced into the gauntlet, where they would likely lose.

Even if H2K makes it into semifinals from quarterfinals, they would have to then face FNC or G2. Either of these teams could knock H2K into the third place match. If H2K finish fourth, they would have accumulated 50 total points, and most likely need several Regional Qualifier wins to get to Worlds. If they finish third, they would have 80 points, and still most likely need to win two series for Worlds.

At H2K’s lowest, they will not make Worlds. Their Spring Split playoffs performance has set them back so far that every single series win could be the difference for them to qualify. Losses now mean a lower playoff seed. Losing early in playoffs means a longer gauntlet run. A loss in the gauntlet means another team is representing Europe at Worlds.

Realistic expectations: H2K is fully capable of beating every single opponent in the league. It is just a matter of which team is playing well that day. They can beat UOL. SPY, VIT and Mysterious Monkeys should be easier wins. UOL faltering against ROC this week proves that H2K can finish first in Group B.

A first round bye for playoffs would be a boon for H2K. It would solidify a top four finish in the Summer Split, essentially guaranteeing they are included in the Regional Qualifiers. If they finish third in playoffs, then H2K most likely has to beat SPY or MSF and face UOL to qualify for Worlds. In this hypothetical, H2K finished at the top of their group by beating UOL, so they could then beat them in the gauntlet and qualify as Europe’s third seed team.

H2K may qualify for Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Best case scenario: At H2K’s peak, they win the whole Summer Split. FNC, G2 and UOL had troubles at Rift Rivals, but it is not necessarily going to be easy. H2K could finish the split in first place for Group B. They could go on to beat MSF or G2 in the semifinals, then win the finals against UOL or FNC.

This is H2K’s best scenario. Of course, winning Summer Split is everyone’s best scenario, but this is especially true of H2K when compared to FNC, G2 and UOL. Points-wise, those three teams are contenders for Europe’s second seed if they don’t win playoffs. Because of H2K’s fifth-sixth finish in the Spring Split, they do not have this luxury. If H2K finish first in Group B, then they only need to win two best-of-five series to go to Worlds. If they do not finish first in their group, then H2K will have to win four to six series to qualify.

Prediction

My actual predictions are a hodge podge of the hypotheticals described above. I expect Group A will see FNC in first, G2 in second and MSF third. Group B will have H2K finish first, UOL second and SPY third. FNC and H2K will go into playoffs with a bye.

In that scenario, UOL would face MSF in the quarterfinals. G2 would match with SPY. Both of the second place teams would win those best-of-fives. UOL will go on to face FNC, while G2 goes up against H2K.

The “Kings of Europe” really should reign supreme at this point. FNC and G2 have impressive histories of winning European best-of-fives. UOL and H2K, on the other hand, have faltered on many occasions when it truly mattered. FNC and G2 should meet in the finals.

It may end up being a close series, but it is hard to bet against G2 at this point in the EU LCS. Sure, they looked rough at Rift Rivals against the NA LCS teams, but this is not Rift Rivals. This is the EU LCS. G2 has won the last three splits in a row, and they seem to always do better in longer series. I expect them to take Europe’s first seed spot for Worlds this year.

FNC would finish the year with 140 championship points, taking Europe’s second seed qualifier. UOL would have 110, H2K would have 80, MSF would have 50 and SPY would have 30. It is hard to imagine this gauntlet final facing off anyone besides H2K and UOL. These Group B rivals will be exciting to watch. Following their week 10 match-up, I expect H2K to follow through and qualify as Europe’s third seed to Worlds.

Regardless of what happens over the last few weeks of the EU LCS, it is going to be riveting. The standings are much closer than many expected coming into the split. The parity within Groups A and B is shaping up to come down to the wire. Series losses now can have Worlds-qualifying consequences. Every match counts.


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